Todd Phillips' upcoming standalone Joker movie, set to star Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character, is to be released October 4, 2019. A left-field choice for a tentpole DC/Warner Bros. release, considering the DC Extended Universe already has a briefly-established Joker with Jared Leto's role in Suicide Squad. Considering the movie is also set to be an origin movie, it was confusing when the news broke and Leto's name wasn't attached - to muddy the waters even further, there was also news of another Joker movie (not to mention four potential additional appearances) in the works to center around Leto's rendition, alongside Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
For a long time, DC Comics has been a proponent of a 'Multiverse' within its mythos, an infinite run of parallel worlds which at times have a propensity to crossover or impact one another. The stories within the DC Multiverse are often fleshed out in their 'Elseworlds' imprint of comics; similar to Marvel's What If? selection of comic book tales, wherein fan-favorite, familiar characters are thrust into parallel situations and origin stories.
Taking a cue from the comics side, WB/DC is launching a new label of non-DCEU films, called "DC Dark" or "DC Black," which might be the their most interesting way yet of differentiate from the offerings of Marvel and their singular Marvel Cinematic Universe - by filming whatever stories they feel are worth telling with whoever they want behind and in front of the camera.
Once the Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker movie is released next year, the stage will be set for additional standalone movies to be released under the 'Worlds of DC' brand. These films can be untethered from the weight of continuity and fan expectation/trepidation already existing thanks to Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League and the upcoming Aquaman and Shazam!(which all share a continuity).
The Elseworlds DC Dark/Black imprint provides an engaging template for future additions. Joker is starting things off with a low budget, but if this approach is successful, we may even see a range of budgets under this label. Here are some great Elseworlds tales that would make for solid standalone movies following Todd Phillips' Joker movie debut next year.
- This Page: Superman: Red Son
- Page 2: A DC Epic, a Batman Twist, and a Fresh Take on Green Lantern
Superman: Red Son
Mark Millar's seminal Superman: Red Son Elseworlds tale is widely regarded as one of the best Superman stories ever written, regardless of its setting in a parallel Universe. Its plot begins with Kal-El's spaceship escaping what is assumed to be Krypton, but instead of landing in Kansas to be found by the Kents, it instead lands on a Ukrainian collective farm at the height of Josef Stalin's power (thanks to a time delay of a few hours).
The three-issue miniseries, published in 2003, spans decades, and follows Superman's ascension to the head of the Communist regime in the USSR. He jockeys with Stalin's illegitimate son Pyotr Roslov (an alternate version of Clark Kent's pal Pete Ross) for power throughout. Roslov at one point assassinates two anti-Superman activists in front of their young son, resulting in the boy growing up to be this world's version of Batman.
Many other DC characters make an appearance, including Hal Jordan with his Green Lantern Marine Corps and Wonder Woman, who expresses unrequited affection for Superman throughout. Lex Luthor and Brainiac emerge as the greatest threats to Superman's power in the story, providing a number of thrilling battles that often do not end in typical ways readers may expect.
If Warner Bros. is willing to play with Superman on the big screen the same way they are with Joker, a fun diversion would undoubtedly be Red Son. It'd be a timely tale, especially considering the USA's current complex relationship with Russia, and the myriad alternate versions of DC superheroes provide stylish and engaging templates for characters on the big screen.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019